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North Carolina editorial roundup

Summary of recent North Carolina newspaper editorials

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By The Associated Press

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

Sept. 9

Winston-Salem Journal on amendments to the North Carolina Constitution:

When you go the polls Nov. 6, you will face questions about six constitutional amendments. You likely have read the many arguments about these amendments, including the process through which they are drafted, the creation of the wording used for your review in the voting booth and challenges to the intent and wording by Gov. Roy Cooper and others.

Now all impediments have been cleared. The N.C. Supreme Court ruled against Cooper and the NAACP and directed elections officials to complete the ballot. Mail voting is supposed to start this week, early voting in about three weeks.

The topics you see on the ballot may not be clear when you stand in the booth, but here is what is at stake for you: The legislators will take power from the executive branch for themselves (appointments to board of elections and ethics and mid-term judicial vacancies); will create an opportunity to disenfranchise voters (framework for a voter ID law); will limit the state’s ability to address future financial crises (by lowering the cap on income tax); will create more protections for the victims of crimes; and, for serendipity, will ensure that you can hunt and fish.

None of these is a good idea as presented. None rises to the level of requiring constitutional protection. Pitching these ideas to you is bad governing at least and the rawest political power play you can imagine at most. Legislators are counting on you just to say yes.

Consider this wording of one of the amendments:

“( ) FOR ( ) AGAINST Constitutional amendment to change the process for filling judicial vacancies that occur between judicial elections from a process in which the Governor has sole appointment power to a process in which the people of the State nominate individuals to fill vacancies by way of a commission comprised of appointees made by the judicial, executive, and legislative branches charged with making recommendations to the legislature as to which nominees are deemed qualified; then the legislature will recommend at least two nominees to the Governor via legislative action not subject to gubernatorial veto; and the Governor will appoint judges from among these nominees.”

Understand that? Is that the way you want your state to be governed? Such vagaries should not change your constitution.

And there is this question: Why does the General Assembly want to take on all this extra work? Are its leaders hankering to have a full-time body, to leave behind their “careers” to attend extra meetings required to vet and approve vacancies on commissions and boards? Do any of them really care?

Our legislature has acted with so little concern for transparency and full representation that any future decisions probably won’t require much process. Retiring state Rep. John Blust (R-Greensboro) derided his colleagues as being controlled by a small group of the powerful. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that every appointment now will be the product of a few rather than everyone?

These amendments were drafted in the dark, presented under a deadline, removed from full-throated debate, shoved on the ballot for you to consider. Why? Because their passage cedes to the legislature tools to execute more self-serving judgments without input from your representative.

The only way to check this power play is for you to reject them all.

Online: https://www.journalnow.com

Sept. 11

The Fayetteville Observer on state agencies receiving federal subpoenas seeking voter registration records:

Add the state Division of Motor Vehicles to the list of agencies slapped with federal subpoenas seeking voter registration records. The demand for records appears to be linked to a federal probe of illegal voting in North Carolina.

A Wilmington federal grand jury last month issued subpoenas for extensive voting records held by the state Board of Elections and by county boards of elections in eastern North Carolina. If they comply, the boards will have to find, copy and submit millions of documents. The request came as the elections boards are preparing for the November elections — a process already delayed by lawsuits challenging several ballot questions that would amend the state constitution.

The elections boards sought and were granted additional time by the U.S. Attorney’s office — at least until the end of the year. Complying with the subpoenas will not only be disruptive, but it also will create an enormous expense for the affected agencies. The state board says it will fight the subpoenas, because they request information that is protected from disclosure by state law.

The subpoenas to the DMV seek voter-registration forms submitted at DMV offices by applicants who submitted documents “that reflect the applicant was not a United States citizen.”

Our question here is the same as our question about the elections-board subpoenas: Is this a well-focused investigation or an expensive fishing expedition? We hope it will reflect wise and prudent spending of the taxpayers’ dollars and produce real results.

Online: http://www.fayobserver.com

Sept. 10

StarNews of Wilmington on flooding and storms in Coastal North Carolina:

Since 1999’s Floyd, we’ve come to the conclusion that with hurricanes, water is the new wind.

Smarter construction methods — from beefed-up building codes to plain old common sense — seem to have helped mitigate damage solely from wind and, to a lesser extent, storm surge. We do, however, add these caveats: 1. Your roof might withstand strong winds, but that’s little comfort when a tree crashes through it; 2. North Carolina has not been hit by a Category 3 hurricane (111-129 mph winds) since 1996’s Fran.

Still, with Hurricane Florence bearing down on our region, Hurricanes Matthew (2016) and Floyd have taught us how devastating, deadly and widespread river flooding can be — regardless of a storm’s wind strength.

In fact, one of our region’s biggest concerns is not the speed of a storm’s winds, but the speed at which the storm itself is moving. A stalled or slow-moving system is terrible news. ...

At this point, there’s not much folks can do to protect their homes from flooding. But people can protect their lives and the lives of loved ones by heeding flood warnings, especially concerning flash flooding.

Fast-moving and quickly rising water is unpredictable and unforgiving. That stretch of water across a highway might not look deep, but you don’t know what lurks beneath. Additionally, the danger associated with flash flooding is more about speed than depth. A foot or so of water surging across a road can sweep a car off the pavement and into a deep ditch or creek.

With Matthew and Floyd as our teachers, most people in Coastal North Carolina should be well-schooled on how to prepare for a hurricane and stay safe during and after. We’ve weathered plenty ourselves, and offer this general advice:

There’s no need to panic, but do closely monitor emergency information. As you are able, check on elderly, disabled or otherwise vulnerable family and neighbors. Stay out of the ocean until further notice; the rip currents are numerous and deadly. And most important, don’t flirt with disaster. Doing so can put your own life in danger, as well as the lives of those who would try to come to your rescue. It’s not worth it.

Online: http://www.starnewsonline.com

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